Raul Lopez and LUAR embrace weird sweetness for SS22
This story originally appeared in i-D’s Out Of The Blue publish, no. 366, Winter 2021. Thanks to Tiffany & Co. Order your copy here.
At least when it comes to fashion, there are few more faithful reflections of New York’s melting pot status than LUAR. Founded in 2011 by Raul Lopez – one of the founders of Hood By Air alongside Shayne Oliver – the label quickly established itself as an ambassador of the city’s inimitable daring – a daring, gritty and confident ode to the place where he was born and raised. After a two-year hiatus, the SS22 season saw Raul make a triumphant return to the podiums. Presented in front of a barking audience of Raul’s friends and family, it represented a distinct development in LUAR vocabulary. Almost palpable feelings of warmth and tenderness in the air had crept into the clothes: softer, more sensual, and more comfortable than the job he had originally made his name for.
Raul wears a CALVIN KLEIN waistcoat. LUAR shorts. Schlumberger® Multiplication earrings with diamonds in 18k gold and platinum and Cooper diamond bracelet in 18k gold and platinum, High Jewelry necklace in platinum with diamonds from the Blue Book Collection 2021 and platinum ring with a diamond over six carats and diamonds TIFFANY & CO.
Let’s talk about the return of LUAR during this recent New York Fashion Week. What a moment! Even looking from a distance, you could really feel the energy coming through the screen.
Oh ! I mean, I think that’s what I was trying to convey to everyone, even though you couldn’t be there physically. It was so nice to go out and see everyone. People were crying! It was crazy, I have never experienced anything like this.
From the people I spoke to who were there, it looked like there was real electricity in the air.
This is also what I felt inside. It was kind of inspired by an oyster – my name is an oyster too. I have this harsh exterior, and a lot of people can feel intimidated by the way I dress or the way I wear, but if you really know me you’ll know that I’m really sweet and mushy around. inside. After I took a break I was really ready to express myself, as well as the gratitude and love I have for everyone. During the process of working on the collection, I felt really good for once, which hadn’t been the case for the past two years. Before that, I was so scared to take breaks – I hadn’t taken one since Hood By Air started in 2005. I didn’t think I was depressed. I was always the one saying to me, ‘Girl, stop! You are good, you can bounce! ‘, But I was not doing well myself. So with this collection, I really wanted to be my real authentic self.
Speaking of the collection itself, what has been the starting point for this season?
It was really about tapping into my childhood. I grew up in a very difficult part of New York where it was not cool to be queer and dark. I built this whole story around being this really tough kid who couldn’t be told anything, because I was scared and didn’t want to be harassed. That’s why the collection started with these harsher, tailored looks and then moved on to softer looks. I kind of wanted to show people that you can get through all this mess of the times and become that beautiful pearl. I wanted it to be true to who I am. One night on my break, I was with Shayne, and he said, “Fuck everyone! They will never get us. You have to be true to yourself! You are a cha cha girl, you are latina! You have to be that girl who owns you yourself. I don’t know if he remembers it, but it really sparked something in me.
It seems like you’ve adopted a certain softness, which many wouldn’t associate with the LUAR of, say, five years ago. What still sets this new chapter of LUAR apart?
I think I stepped up the task of marketing the brand. I love to wear t-shirts, sweatshirts but I had never tried to convey this in my own collections. We’re conditioned to think it’s wrong, but how else are we going to hold on and keep telling our stories? You can be true to yourself, but you have to earn money too, my girl!
LUAR’s audience is international, but it’s a brand many will instinctively associate with New York City. How would you describe the New York it is the product of?
I think, just because I was born and raised in New York City, I always tried to fit into every group. I grew up in the neighborhood, I was that kid who crossed the Williamsburg Bridge downtown because people didn’t have him where I lived. We were driving down the West Side Highway after visiting my grandma in the Bronx, and I would see all these gay kids and trans girls, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, what the hell is this? is that? But I knew I would find that scene again someday, and that would be it. Then one day I discovered girls in art and the fashion scene, then Shayne – in fact, we first met on Christopher Street when we were teenagers. And then I met Telfar when I was about seventeen, so we’ve all known each other for about twenty years. It was before Blogspot, before Tumblr… I met everyone just riding the streets and saying to myself, “You look cool! In school, I was trying to fit in with all the goth kids and punk kids, and I started dressing in a way where I took pieces from all of these different genders and groups of people, and I started dressing them up. incorporated into my own wardrobe.
I had Jordans, or a pair of Timberlands, and then I had these pants that were a little punk, then an oversized hoodie and a Chanel wallet. Mixing it all up resulted in LUAR, which is why it’s just my name spelled backwards. It’s like a reflection of myself.
What are you most passionate about in fashion right now?
I love people watching, especially the new generation of children. I feel like there was a time when kids were afraid to really dress up, but now they’re really giving the most. And I love it, because I’ve always dressed to make people uncomfortable. I don’t like good attention, I like bad attention. Even growing up, I would say to myself, “If they don’t talk about me, I’ll come home and change! I love that we see this again – it gives me life.
With thanks to Tiffany & Co.
Photography Mario Sorrenti
Fashion Alastair McKimm
Bob Hair Recine
Frank B makeup at The Wall Group
Nail technician Honey at the NY show using Chanel
Photography assistance Kotaro Kawashima and Javier Villegas
Digital operator Chad Meyer
Fashion Aid Madison Matusich, Milton Dixon III, Jermaine Daley and Casey Conrad
Martin Keehn suit
Kazuhide Katahira hair aid
Elle Haein Kim Makeup Aid
Production Katie Fash, Layla Néméjanki and Steve Sutton
Production assistance William Cipos
Casting director Samuel Ellis for DMCASTING
All jewelry worn at Tiffany & Co.